Monday, August 3, 2009


I went into hospital today to have the saline-filled breast tissue expanders replaced with silicone breast implants.

The tissue expanders have been in for about 6 months - my plastic surgeon does not feel comfortable leaving the expanders in for longer in case they rupture.

The expanders are usually inserted during the same operation as the mastectomy if you choose immediate breast reconstruction.

The 2 pictures above show the expanders - the small circle on the side of my chest is the port used to fill them with saline.

Each month, my plastic surgeon injected saline solution through the expander ports on the sides of my chest, to slowly stretch my pectoral muscle.

They sit quite high up in the chest. The silicone implants will be a little smaller, sit a little lower and will look more natural.

The saline implants feel quite hard and bumpy -like they have 'corners'. This is not sore, it just does not look smooth.

The silicone breast implants should last about 20 years or longer.

My plastic surgeon is unsure of what the patch of 'psoriasis' or 'fungal infection' spot on my right breast, where my nipple was, is. He will biopsy the skin and send to lab for analysis. I find this area quite weird as all breast tissue and nipple has been removed. Is it my nipple trying to grow back in my morphic field??

I am finding the courses I am studying so interesting. The information contained in the course on anti-aging and preventative medicine is so over-due. I am learning about, amongst other topics, the endocrine system (body's hormonal system) and how to create balance using bio-indentical hormones, therapeutic doses of nutritional supplements, diet, lifestyle changes, therapies, etc.

I love that the move towards wanting to integrate alternative and complimentry therapies is coming from allopathic doctors for a change.The boudaries between the schools of medicine are starting to disolve and there is a move towards what is best for the person, regardless of the school of medicine.

The other course, on psycho-neuro immunology and neuro-linguistic programming, is also so fascinating and valuable. These subjects look at the mind's role in the creation of disease and healing.

I hope to see the information I am learning regarding breast cancer prevention, early detection and treatment options, integrate into the traditional medical breast health model in South Africa.

After the temporary saline implants have been removed, drains are inserted. These will be in for as long as it takes to drain a certain amount of fluid - I think this is about 25ml per day.

Luckily, I managed to do this overnight so my drains could be removed at lunch time the next day.

The last pic is the final product! - after the silicone implants had been inserted behind my pectoral muscles.

(Pic orientation: My head is at the bottom of the pic - you can tell because the scar where the silicone impant was inserted, is underneath the breast).

The silicone implants are a lot smoother than the saline implants although still quite swollen, and without the ports on the sides which is the main thing!

Yeah! I can now sleep-ish on my side again without waking up in pain because the port is pressing on a rib nerve.

Next year, I will go back to have nipples sewn on using skin from my bikini line. My plastic surgeon will sewn the 2 muscles, running length ways from my ribs to my pubic bone, back together again - they got separated while I was pregnant with our 2 girls. I now have a hernia down my midline - lovely! (this does not happen to everyone so still have kids!!)

During this operation, my plastic surgeon will also take fat from my bum area and inject it into where needed in my breast area, to fill out any dents. I just never thought my breasts would end up here!!


geneskirt said...

Heidi, just found your blog two days ago. I just want to express how excited I am to learn, share and grow with you. I should let you know I am going through the EXACT same diagnosis and process (some variables), almost to the day as you. We are parallel in our philosophies on health, healing and treatment. Just want to say a BIG THANKYOU for your time spent on this blog. Anxiously awaiting a new post. Yours in health- Eleanor

Sandy said...

I'm having this done also, I had breast cancer in 1999. Many bad reconstruction surgeries. I stopped trying to fix my breasts back in 2004 (I was so sick of the pain and doctor telling me of all the great stuff they were going to do to make me look better). In Aug 2009 - I was having alot of pain in my breast area, so I decided to try again and do the DIEP flap. Well, it failed. I do have a beautiful tummy tuck. I am very happy with my tummy...... nice. But, I have expanders in and some kind of shelf thing causing unbelievable PAIN. The expanders went in Sept 25th. Today is Oct 6th. Swelling, leaking blooding yuck from my incision. I'm eating pain pills day and night. Now I remember why I gave up on reconstrution. OMG !!!!
I see the Doctor tomorrow. I know there is no way I should be feeling this much pain 12 days after surgery just to put expanders in. Remember I am kind of an expert in recovering for breast surgeries. I will write again soon. My contact e-mail:


Shavonda Duarte said...

How are you now, Heidi? More than 3 years have passed since you posted about this, and I sincerely hope you’re doing well in life. Has your surgeon sewed your nipples on? I am sorry for the personal question. But I do hope all your succeeding operations after the one you posted about here have been successful. I also wish that you’ve fully overcome cancer, and that it will no longer haunt you for the rest of your life. And please continue your commitment to raising awareness about breast cancer and the benefits of preventing and identifying it early on. I’m sure you’re going to help a lot of women out there.

Shavonda Duarte

Marc Bryan said...

Breast cancer is really something that makes a woman’s heart very sad. My mom felt the same disappointment when she knew she had the same illness. The doctor tried to cure the cancer using drugs, unfortunately, she still ended up having her breast removed. It was only last year that she decided to get implants after reading a lot of blogs from cancer survivors like you. I just hope that you’re doing good like my mom and that you continue to treasure your life.

Marc Bryan

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